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Escape the Summer Frenzy with American Yacht Charters

Chartering a boat can take you away from overwhelming crowds this summer. Here are Worth’s takeaways from the Newport Charter Yacht Show.

141' Shadowl Yacht

“I want to be alone.” That Greta Garbo line from the film “Grand Hotel” sums up a lot of travelers’ feelings this summer. For example, Europe can be a tourist nightmare of overcrowded cities, beaches, and attractions. Venice, Florence, and much of the South of France suffer hordes of tourists that overwhelm the locals’ ability to host them. Airfares and hotel prices are bordering on the absurd.

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Some have decided that the ultimate revenge is to avoid traveling abroad when school is out and the weather is good. So, they plan to stick closer to home. 

Enter: the American yacht charter business. 

As Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard’s show organizer Veronica Brown told Worth, “Chartering a yacht is a way to totally set your own agenda, see the sights, and control the level of sociability you’re comfortable with.”

A charterer can bring whomever they like for all or some of the time. They can anchor out in a remote cove and experience profound solitude or dock in a resort town like Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard for beach-going, shopping, and dining. Charter boat brokers, managers, and crews are expertly trained to discern clients’ wishes and meet their specific needs. No one should have a cookie-cutter experience onboard.

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So what was on offer at the show? Fourteen yachts of such varying design, size, and purpose that, as the cliché goes, there was something for everyone.

The largest category was what we often think of as a yacht—a large powerboat (over 65ft) with multiple decks; stylish, often lavish interiors; and sybaritic features like outdoor hot tubs, exercise equipment, and water toys like jet skis, kayaks, and diving equipment. Of course, there are gourmet chefs and crew members in service that take care of every detail. From largest to smallest, the boats in this category were: 191’ Unbridled, 157’ Mirabella, 141’ Shadowl, 133’ Serenity, 125’ Sea Axis, 124’, Ariadne, 112’ Spirit, 110’ Freedom, 88’ Hoya Saxa, 85’ Lexington, 79’ Timeless, and 67’ Liquid Asset.

Aft deck of the 141′ Shadowl

Each has a unique personality—some with modern minimal interiors reminiscent of a Swedish loft, and some looking like an over-the-top wedding venue. The larger ones obviously have several outdoor decks dedicated to entertaining and lounging, while the smaller ones possess a more intimate feel. All are in shipshape, nautically known as “Bristol” condition and, even more impressive is the level of detail, including soft goods such as linens, table settings, and furnishings plus hard goods like intricately carved wood moldings and matched marble countertops you can see on closer inspection. 

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Charter brokers come to this show to see for themselves how the owners and captains maintain the vessels. There is no room for second best or good enough in this very competitive industry. The yachts are perfect.

Docked charter boats

If you are interested in yachting history, Timeless is a yacht to consider. She was built in 1947 by Trumpy, one of the most respected builders of yesteryear’s yachts. She has been carefully restored both mechanically and aesthetically. Captain Charl and his wife/first mate Christine are experts in boat restorations. He proudly told Worth, “The Pullman sink in the head is something you won’t see anywhere else.” Pull up to Watch Hill Rhode Island’s Ocean House in Timeless and you’ll think you’re in another era.

Some of the charter boats, like Ariadne, are for sale. She is a modern classic with a long list of impressive upgrades by the best yards. Her elegantly restrained interior whispers “yachting” with an American accent. Chartering allows for a test drive before purchase.

If sailing is more your style, there were three fantastic boats on offer. 125’ Kaori is an iconic sailing superyacht plying New England waters. One could admire the interior carpentry for a week without venturing outside to her recently added upper deck. Heading “down east” for Maine coastal cruising on her allows one to see the unique, fir-clad, rocky coast and sparsely inhabited, history-rich islands.“Sail[ing] does not mean hardship. The crew can prepare food and drink equal to that on her powerboat cousins,” Captain Rob Sengstaken assured Worth.

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A slightly less grandiose boat was Vanishing Point, a Hylas 57. Owner and Captain David Crafa helped design all her systems to make her “a smaller superyacht.” Her modern and light-colored interior has the feel and features of a larger boat. Outside, he added a hard top to keep clients out of the sun. Based in the Hamptons’ Three Mile Harbor, he loves to share the sailing experience with beginners as well as the knowledgeable. Vanishing Point is available for day charters as well as a weekend afloat.

One sailboat not at the show but exhibited at a booth was Sol. She is a Sunreef Eco 80, one of the best-built catamarans, and this one is solar-powered. She is, according to the brochure, “The future of luxury sustainable cruising.” At 78’, with the legendary interior space that catamarans are known for, this is a believable claim. 

Like all industries, innovation is in the wind for the charter business. Exclusive Yachts has formed a concierge service membership-only club. Using the point system, a member can access a wide variety of yachts. Headed by industry pros, this new service aims to remove the charterer’s responsibility. Plus they offer members significant discounts. Lou Clark, head of sales, was succinct, “Clients are busy. They have many interests. We want to make on-the-water time as frictionless as possible while expanding the range of yacht choices.”

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When the summer in New England season ends, these yachts charter out of Florida and the Caribbean during the winter. A very popular destination is the Bahamas with its crystal-clear water surrounding over 700 explorable islands. The family islands (Bahamian for outer islands) are uninhabited, making the Bahamas a nature lover’s paradise. When visitors are done with turtles, dolphins, and parrots, the inhabited islands have elegant restaurants and resorts. For fishermen, the catch-and-release Bahamian protocol ensures anglers a bountiful catch.

Weekly rates vary by boat, location, and season. The charterer always pays for the fuel, food, and dockage. Look to spend between $30k to $300k per week.

There is a reason some clients return year after year, decade after decade, to the yacht charter experience. The ability to create a bespoke experience, both by selecting a yacht and an itinerary, makes for a uniquely cherishable getaway.

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